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Author Topic: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code  (Read 5902 times)

mouser

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Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« on: February 02, 2011, 12:35:26 AM »
Another great true life story of someone who saw a flaw in a gambling game and how they figured it out and exploited it.  God I love these kinds of articles.

Quote
Srivastava realized that the same logic could be applied to the lottery. The apparent randomness of the scratch ticket was just a facade, a mathematical lie. And this meant that the lottery system might actually be solvable, just like those mining samples. “At the time, I had no intention of cracking the tickets,” he says. He was just curious about the algorithm that produced the numbers. Walking back from the gas station with the chips and coffee he’d bought with his winnings, he turned the problem over in his mind. By the time he reached the office, he was confident that he knew how the software might work, how it could precisely control the number of winners while still appearing random...


mouser

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2011, 12:39:16 AM »
I love this part:

Quote
Instead of secretly plundering the game, he decided to go to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Srivastava thought its top officials might want to know about his discovery. Who knows, maybe they’d even hire him to give them statistical advice. “People often assume that I must be some extremely moral person because I didn’t take advantage of the lottery,” he says. “I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”

zridling

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2011, 05:47:41 AM »
Not sure I agree with his morality. Given that lotteries prey on the hopes of those who most need the cash -- and who can least afford to part with what little they have -- Srivastava should have at least tried to make a million or two just to "confirm" his results.

tomos

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2011, 05:57:25 AM »
a good read !

Not sure I agree with his morality. Given that lotteries prey on the hopes of those who most need the cash -- and who can least afford to part with what little they have -- Srivastava should have at least tried to make a million or two just to "confirm" his results.
-
he says it was a practical decision (but maybe he's just being defensive about his morality!) - he reckoned he could earn 600$ a day with it but he earned more as a contracter. Probably not so much fun either to be scanning all these tickets for patterns in the numbers.

Interesting, at the end of the article they talk about a woman who won at least four big prizes, each with odds of around 1 to a million. Maybe she cracked something bigger...
Tom

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2011, 06:08:48 AM »
Not sure I agree with his morality. Given that lotteries prey on the hopes of those who most need the cash -- and who can least afford to part with what little they have -- Srivastava should have at least tried to make a million or two just to "confirm" his results.

+1

Absolutely. It was reckless of him to go to them with such flimsy evidence~! :D
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Freedom is the right to be wrong, not the right to do wrong. - John Diefenbaker

housetier

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2011, 02:52:00 PM »
A very cool story that will keep me off Lottery for a while. I played a couple of times as a kid, but somehow the lack of reward made it unappealing.

I would have taken advantage...

Deozaan

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2011, 02:55:28 PM »
I'm just another voice chiming in to say it was a cool story.

I've never done the lottery, and don't intend to. Unless someone tells me how to crack it, perhaps.  :D


tomos

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2011, 03:58:42 PM »
A very cool story that will keep me off Lottery for a while. I played a couple of times as a kid, but somehow the lack of reward made it unappealing.

for one full year, I bought a lotto scratch card every week - the odds of winning something on these cards were supposed to be 1:9.
I gave up after the year, havent bought a scratch card since

(yes, I do buy the other ones - especailly when I'm broke...)
Tom

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2011, 07:00:04 PM »
I buy lottery tickets every now and then, but very rarely. If I spend $20 a year, that's a lot. It's fun. You for a brief moment get to imagine another life of freedom.

I absolutely would have gamed the system as much as possible. And I wouldn't have felt guilty in the least. :D
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Deozaan

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2011, 09:40:27 PM »
I love this part:

Quote
Instead of secretly plundering the game, he decided to go to the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. Srivastava thought its top officials might want to know about his discovery. Who knows, maybe they’d even hire him to give them statistical advice. “People often assume that I must be some extremely moral person because I didn’t take advantage of the lottery,” he says. “I can assure you that that’s not the case. I’d simply done the math and concluded that beating the game wasn’t worth my time.”


I thought that part was really funny, too. More for the fact that he wanted to make sure that everybody knew he was "immoral" but that it just wasn't worth the effort.

Reminds me of a clip from a Futurama episode that went something like this:

Some Guy: "If I wasn't so lazy I'd punch your lights out!"
Fry: "But you are lazy, right?"
Some Guy: "Oh, don't get me started!"


Fred Nerd

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Re: Cracking the Scratch Lottery Code
« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2011, 05:32:25 AM »
I just read that artice as well. Its cool idea. I have often thought that all games of 'chance' have to be calculatable.
And they probably are.
Sweet, we can make real money on this.
Lottery is a tax on those who are bad at maths. Until you get REALLY good at maths.